Always Turn To the Funnies First

I have to go to a meeting in a little bit, and I don't have any projects that take less than an hour. So instead, I offer you this. It was my grandfather's favorite joke.

There once was a girl from Boston, Mass…
Who went in the water up to her ankles.

It don't rhyme now, but wait till the tide comes in.

He told it so many times that it got to the point where he'd just smile at you and say only: "…wait till the tide comes innnnn," holding that last syllable for an extra second or two, sounding like more of a promise than an actual joke.

So when I did a eulogy for him on Christmas Eve of 1994, I couldn't help it. That joke was the first thing that came out of my mouth. My mother looked horrified for a moment. But the point, at that time, was that looking for the absurd side of things always seemed to be what he was about.

My grandfather was a greenskeeper. First at North Hills Country Club in New York City, then at Smithtown Landing out on Long Island, then when he moved to Florida there was a brief stint at Magnolia Valley in New Port Richey and finally several years at Beacon Woods. Every morning he'd be up at about 4:00, whether he had to work or not. He'd go out front and pick up the morning newspaper; there were many times when he had to sit out front and wait for it because he was up so early. Then back inside for a look at the news of the day, over a bowl of Special K cereal. I don't think he would have appreciated the change in the shape of the cereal. (It's a flake now, but back then it looked sort of like a curved Rice Krispie. There's an honest-to-god online discussion about this here.)

Grandpa always—ALWAYS turned to the comics section of the paper first. Well…being an older fellow, he called then "the funnies." His favorite strip was Hagar the Horrible. There was one where Hagar is giving a big speech to inspire his men about how they're going to ransack and pillage, etc., and his wife is standing behind him holding up the bag lunch he'd forgotten. I heard about that one for years. Grandpa's philosophy of reading the newspaper: "Always read the funnies first. Start your day with a laugh. Because there's so much misery and bad news in the rest of the paper that it can ruin your day."

So yeah. I always—ALWAYS turn to the funnies first. Old habits die hard. Especially since Hagar isn't that funny anymore.

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